Pricing Mall Permits

Evolution of the Mall Experience: Pricing Your Mall Permits

Checkers vs Chess

In our high risk-high reward industry everyone is looking at pricing their mall permits and hoping for an edge. Aficionados of chess like to say strategic blunders are a “checkers vs chess” mentality. Well-meaning players choose a move that rewards them in the short run without realizing the long-term ramifications. Often, it means repeating the same mistake twice. How does this translate to your mall permits? Well, choosing a permitting team with a low-cost proposal can have many long-term consequences.

On the positive side of the spectrum, you have happy tenants due to low cost, you are happy due to falling under budget, and the permit team is happy because they landed one large project with multiple tenants that must use them. Everyone is happy.

However, there is a dark side and many experienced mall developers are well aware of it. Low budget usually means low quality. This permitting team may only have two people on your project, not that they’d admit it, and probably aren’t paying them what they’re worth. Which means the minute you sign a proposal with them your name is linked with theirs and the way they treat their employees. Additionally, because they are working on your mall they have multiple tenants at once which means each of your tenants are competing against each other for attention! Which leads to the next point which is, in fact, one of the most important keys to permitting: communication.

Low budget/cost usually equates to low communication. The bare minimum communication results from overworked teams, competing priorities, and maybe even low expertise.

What does “Expert” Mean?

When you get a low-cost proposal for permitting your mall concept usually the word expert is written somewhere in there. Let’s ask what does expert mean, really? Is your permit expert a former planner? If that’s the claim where did they work as a planner? Or were they really interns at a jurisdiction for a couple months? Is your permit expert a former architect? If so, where did they work? Can they read codes or use CAD? Or did they study design and architecture in school without doing any actual architecture? Is your permit expert an ADA expert? Are they an architect? If not, then they can’t legally claim to be an expert in ADA.

Why should you care if your expert was really a planner or architect as they claim? We just need bodies on the project! Okay, if you’re really asking that question you deserve what you get. But, let’s navigate these questions for the sake of argument. First, integrity. If they aggrandize their curriculum vitae what else will they maybe “tweak” a little bit? Are you going to be given an upsell worth more than the original estimate? Probably. Maybe not always but, it could happen. Second, if only a courier is what you want then your “expert” is being overpaid. Hire some joe schmoe to ride his bike to city hall.

Fool Me Once

The wise saying of “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,” is very real with permitting mall concepts. Longstanding relationships are standard in any industry, and once you find something that works for you there is little need to change. However, if and when your low-cost permit team fails you-and they will- it is not a fluke but a behavior. Forgiving once is allowable, but repeating that mistake is not.

Has your team ever worked with this permitting team before? If so, how did it go? Was one construction start date missed? Was a second construction start date missed? These are expensive mistakes that indicate an exponentially expensive pattern of behavior. Low cost permitting teams have expensive behaviors like missing construction start dates because they often don’t have the staff they claim they do.

The Balancing Act

As the point person on your mall you are asked to perform a balancing act on a daily basis, and balancing cost with quality is at the forefront of your mind. Being overcharged is awful, but being undercharged is worse. Ultimately, you must navigate the experience alone and learn as you go.

Permit Advisors can help you with your concept and we work with malls, shopping centers, and their development teams every day. If you have a specific question about your concept and are not a customer yet give us a call. We won’t pitch to you. We’ll answer your direct question and allow you to discover us.


About us: Permit Advisors Inc is a nationwide permit expediting, entitlement, and consulting firm based out of Beverly Hills, CA. We have established relationships with municipalities nation-wide and implement time as well as cost-saving strategies to efficiently complete projects. We provide a project management team to ensure every aspect of the project is given specific attention while maintaining open communication between the jurisdiction, consultants, and our clients. We serve retailers, architects, landlords, tenant coordinators, contractors, and franchisees nationwide in the hotel, retail, restaurant, mixed-use, multifamily, entertainment, grocery, and logistical plant development industries. Contact us today for a consultation at

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May 15, 2016 By admin